The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed forward Kasperi Kapanen to a two-year contract extension carrying an average annual value of $3.2 million. The exact amount as Kapanen's prior contract, signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs before the 2019-20 season.
Kapanen was scheduled to have an arbitration hearing with the Penguins on July 30th.
According to Puckpedia.com, this signing leaves the Penguins $1.3 million over the NHL's salary cap. However, they will have to send down a player regardless to make space for Kapanen on the roster, which should make the team cap compliant.
Penguins general manager Ron Hextall has spoken confidently about the negotiations with Kapanen throughout the summer. He has also mentioned his expectations that the 25-year-old winger will improve from his performance from last season.
Kapanen is coming off a rough year, scoring 32 points (11-21) in 79 games for the Penguins. After beginning the year on the Penguin's second-line and expecting to become an everyday linemate for Evgeni Malkin, Kapanen received a demotion in the lineup due to an inability to produce offensively and his emergence as a defensive liability in the top six.
Initially drafted in the first round by the Penguins during the 2014 draft, Kapanen still possesses the same talent and ability that first endeared him to the organization. His speed and agility are among some of the best in the league and creates mismatches for opposing defenseman.
Kapanen is a former 20-goal scorer with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but his best year came with the Penguins two seasons ago. During the COVID shortened season, Kapanen scored 30 points (11-19) in 40 games and showed glimpses of chemistry with Malkin before each faced injuries late in the year.
The Finnish forward will return to the Penguins next season, looking to prove that he still belongs in the NHL.
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